In the last two weeks, multiple reports have linked the Browns with Oregon QB Marcus Mariota with the reports saying that they would be willing to trade up for Mariota. These claims were boosted by the fact that the Browns new QB coach Kevin O’Connell is currently working as Mariota’s personal QB and will be until after the combine and Oregon’s Pro day.
As of now, Mariota might be one of the most polarizing players in the draft. Mariota is a consensus top 15 and simply just will not stay on the board any longer that with the value of quarterbacks in today’s NFL. Its not off the where the issues lie like Winston’s, he was a role model and a scholar during his time in at Oregon. Its not about his physical skills as he very good specimen at 6’4” and 219 pounds with a 4.4 40 speed there no shortage of height or speed. Watching Mariota at Oregon, he really passes the eye test looking flawless and calm at all situations winning the Heismann trophy this but still looked a little questionable in a couple of situations. These situations are a cause for concerns especially his games against Stanford and this year’s title game against Ohio State. Mariota’s had a few injuries in his time at Oregon but nothing to get too concerned about. It’s adapting is what’s key with Oregon’s scheme being completely different to every pro team bar Chip Kelly’s Eagles and Mariota lacking any experience in a pro scheme. Mariota is a smart guy and and I do feel like he is the kind of guy who’ll learn the playbook by training camp, it just a big step and I can’t say that Mariota is ready for it. Jameis Winston might be a bigger risk with the off the field issues but schematically he is a good fit for most offenses in the league. Mariota comes from a system in a Oregon where the man three plays were a zone read, screen pass and a read option which the Ducks have used to great effect when running the offense at their lighting fast speed. He just not going to see that many of those plays in the NFL.
Marcus Mariota fumbles in one of his worst games for Oregon in a loss to Stanford
From a Brown’s point of view it would be a curious move but if it were to happen you’d have to think that they would be a hundred percent certain that he was their guy and was able to make the transition. They have an in that no other team with soon to be QB coach Kevin O’Connell. O’Connell will work with Mariota until after Oregon’s Pro day on the 14th of March before linking up in the Browns. This gives the Browns a month and a half to weigh up whether it is worth moving up for Mariota and whether he is the long term answer at QB. Its not just Mariota they will have to judge as they have two young QBs under contract next year in Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw and a decent starting QB in Brian Hoyer who is interested in coming back but just wishes to be paid. If they are going to try and move up they need to be a hundred percent sure that Mariota is the starter from day one, not in one or two years but right from the moment he steps in the door. Two first round picks is a massive price for any player especially when there are other needs which I would consider to be a bigger needs in NT and WR.
For me I would consider it too much to give up without seeing what Connor Shaw and Johnny Manziel can develop into and contribute to the Browns. The price tag is just too much for a player with some question marks about his adaptability and especially if you need help elsewhere like the Browns do. That’s not to say I would against Mariota playing for the Browns if he fell down to 12th or even if fell to 7th or 8th and it was more affordable to make a move for him. Even if Mariota does begin to slide a bit I just can’t see him moving past the Jets at 6th. All I want for the Browns to be a hundred percent that Mariota will be an upgrade because this franchise of all franchises has had their share of QB pain.
More on why it isn’t worth moving up for Mariota: Trading up for a first round quarterback is rarely worth the cost